Daniel Fraser

Two Poems

for Sinéad Morrissey

Another warning sign: plates shifting, the skull
a collision of textures, weather fronts—
pain tectonic as it returns to form.
Silver on the reservoir, sheep cluttered
in corner fields. I chew mouthfuls of warm
rubbish: tinfoil, pan-scourers; rare metals grimy and dull.

Lights down. Curtain up. Today’s matinee
is playing in bad neighbourhoods
at slashed prices, on patchy, worn-down screens.
Soviet, interior, the montage fumes and reeks
of sparks. Deft slices stitch up meat
to maggots, the stone lions as they rise.
Symbols flood, run butchering through greyscale,
their muzzles cold and wet with smoke.

I lose the plot. Colours run. Limbs twist and feed
along back seats. In this place all
narrative is damage, I watch ice shrink, ducks bleed
on the black lake. Scene after scene
of knives on eyelids, psychedelic sprawl.
Brain-deep in shock value, experimental kitsch.

I direct my body home, leftovers of stabbed
topiary, gutted bird. Sleeping through light
I wake in the dark and soft cars, remembering
only paths of flashbulbs, the deep blues running cool.
What passes then, into the silence of the image,
is pain and its diminishment; time’s search
for mitigation—footsteps in the maze—
faltering that turns each thing back towards itself.



Window, evening. Quiet north wind.

Summer dusk flexes its muscles.
Vines coil, leaves fatten.
The nettles have grown up into the sky.

The fridge murmurs. Stairs creak,
ask for feet. Even wood
knows your distance is a sin.

A match strikes,
burns off the corner of an hour.
Music distorts its own tune.

Birds clot the grey-blue,
a hungry deepening of trees.

Window, evening. Eyes looking out.
Turning them over:
room, nettles, quiet north wind.

The book is open and my eye moves as it should,
left to right and top to bottom.
Light spreads its weight over the page.
It will not pass.
The book is the book is the book.

Stars now. Black sky.
Moon-gleam on the nettles.
The leaves are fat, the vines are coiled.
There are voices in the park.

Words and leaves.
The hour burns. The book remains.
Nothing is as it should be.

A woman treads the darkened garden.
Cold light weeps off her phone.
In her I recognise each part of you
that I’ve forgotten.
Your body withdrawing
all knowledge of its shape.

Strokes of hair float back, swim with insects.
She smokes, thumbs the screen, drops
into a patio chair. From the outlines
and hidden mouth
vagueness makes its wound.
On the illuminated lawn
a dandelion clock
rocks in failed dispersal;

the fragile cage flinches on the stem.
Its weakness
desperate to be erased
by the small machinery of breath.


Daniel Fraser is a writer from Hebden Bridge. His poetry and prose have won prizes and been published widely in print and online, including the LA Review of Books, Aeon, Poetry London, and Poetry Ireland Review. His book Lung Iron is published by ignitionpress. Find him on Twitter at @Outbliette_Mag.

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